We have secured over £150,000 from NHS England to increase cancer screening rates amongst some of the most vulnerable people seen by health services: people with learning disabilities.
Our Learning Disabilities (LD) Strategic Health Facilitation team has been awarded £154,746 by NHS England after showing how it would work with GPs in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to enable them to promote the NHS bowel, breast and cervical screening programmes amongst their learning disabled patients.
Currently people with learning disabilities have a much lower participation rate in these screening programmes than people in the general population, and yet cancer is a major health risk for them: figures from 2013 show that 20% of people with learning disabilities die from some form of the disease.
The team will use the funding to employ a project co-ordinator to work closely with GP practices and supported living facilities, providing training and easy read literature so that staff can encourage greater awareness and understanding of the screenings amongst people with learning disabilities and their carers. As part of the project, GP practices will also be reimbursed for the additional time they spend on activities like clinical assessments, making extra contact with learning disabled patients and tracking the uptake of the screening programmes.
"Vitally important work"
Jackie Fleeman, Lead Strategic LD Health Facilitator for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very pleased to receive this funding so that we can carry out this vitally important work and continue to reduce the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities. Currently in Derbyshire, only 35% of people with learning disabilities take advantage of cervical screening programmes, 48% of breast screening programmes and 56% of bowel screening programmes.
“We believe that many of the barriers to these programmes – such as complicated appointment systems, communication difficulties and a lack of understanding amongst people with learning disabilities about why they should attend the screenings – can be overcome. We are hoping that this funding will mean that more people are screened, more cases of cancer are detected early and more lives are saved.”
"Putting our priorities into practice"
Carolyn Gilby, Acting Director of Operations at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “One of our priorities here at Derbyshire Healthcare is to improve the physical healthcare of the people who use our services, and to reduce the inequalities that exist in people’s health outcomes. This project is a great example of how we are putting our priorities into practice, and a great example of how different parts of the NHS are working closer together to provide people with the best possible care. Our thanks go to NHS England for seeing the value of the project and supporting it through this extra investment.”
"A robust plan"
Wendy Saviour, Director of Commissioning NHS England (North Midlands) said: “Screening services play a vital role in helping protect our health and can save lives. NHS England was delighted to award this funding to Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who have a robust plan to take these services to those people who may otherwise miss out.”